Posted on June 01 2018
When I had my son, I planned on breastfeeding him for the first year – and I did not think I needed a class. How difficult is it to put your baby on your boob? It seems pretty straightforward…
…I was wrong.
Out of my circle of girlfriends, I was the first to have a baby. So I didn’t have anyone to bounce experiences off of.
So I just quietly assumed that what I was experiencing was in the normal realm of breastfeeding problems.
My eyes would well up with tears every time my son needed to eat – it was painful. And not even an episode of Friends could help me power through a feeding. My nipples cracked, bled, and were starting to become indented; which later I would learn is referred to as “lipstick nipple” and trust me; it’s not part of the process.
I only nursed my son for three months, and then we switched to solely bottle-fed. And I couldn’t have been happier that it was finally over. I loathed breastfeeding and could not fathom how anyone could claim to enjoy it one bit. I mean sure, there were the sweet tender moments of him looking up me with that cute little milk drunk face, or his tiny hand clinging on to my bra strap – those (two) moments were precious. But thank God it was over, and I couldn’t have been more relieved.
BUT when I became pregnant with my daughter three years later, anxiety consumed me over the thought of breastfeeding yet again. By this time in my life, a few of my girlfriends had become mothers, and it started to become apparent that my breastfeeding stories and theirs did not align. So I decided I needed to get some help because I could not survive the same experience I had before.
It turns out my breastfeeding problems were the same problems many women experience.
Yes, there are blogs, books, and all sorts of written advice on breastfeeding problems. Covering everything from posture, position of the baby, naked baby vs. not naked baby, etc. but nothing beats the one-on-one help from a certified lactation consultant. They watch everything – and I promise you this, you are not a ‘bad mom’ for not knowing how to secure the perfect latch. Yes, although it may be a “natural” act for our body to perform, you’re not expected to “just do it.” Training is an essential part of the process.
I’m going to introduce you to my secret weapon or better yet, the “breast mommy friend” you could ever ask for. Allie B. She’s an RN, MSN, and an IBCLC. When she is not chasing her three boys (all under the age of 7) around or working nights in the NICU, you can find her at Loma Linda Murrieta teaching a kick-ass breastfeeding class.
I highly encourage you to visit her the first Monday of each month for the Breastfeeding class or the second Monday of each month for the Newborn Breastfeeding class. You can get some one-on-one support, advice or just a hug if you need it!
If you aren’t able to make the trip to Loma Linda, Allie gave us the rundown on some breastfeeding tips that are sure to help!
- Baby Lead is Best: Let’s face it, we all live crazy busy lives, and it can be tempting to put your baby on a schedule to make your life easier. Try to pay attention to your baby’s cues more than the clock. This is one of many common breastfeeding problems as a schedule too soon can lead to feeding issues and decrease in weight gain. Let your baby dictate the feeds and a routine will follow.
- Lower Your Expectations: If you’re anything like me, you had plans for perfection after delivery and were confident that everything was going to be great! How often does that actually happen? Not so often! Some days, you’re going to feel very in-tune with your baby and feel like you’re rockin’ this mom thing. Other days, you’re going to feel a little crazy. Be kind to yourself and just remember that in the end, it will all be OK.
- Utilize Your Partner: Everybody’s partner is different. Sometimes our partner is our spouse, and sometimes it’s family or friends. Whatever your situation may be, you’re not alone. Sometimes breastfeeding can make us feel like we’re attached to our baby 24/7, and that can feel stressful. Utilize those around you and allow yourself to lean on those who offer to help. Sometimes, simply sitting outside for a few minutes alone can give you what you need to feel refreshed and ready to go again.
- Remember the Growth Spurts: It’s very typical during your baby’s growth spurts to feel like you’re just one of those women who doesn’t make enough milk. In reality, that’s very rare and not one of the more common breastfeeding problems! While it can indeed happen, more times than not, outside factors are contributing to a low milk supply as opposed to a mama being physically unable to produce enough milk for her baby. Remember, growth spurts happen at two weeks of life and every 2 to 4 weeks after that within the first year. If your baby is eating much more frequently, monitor the diapers. If they’re still giving you 8 to 12 diapers or more in a 24-hour period and their weight gain is sufficient, it’s more than likely just a growth spurt. Ride it out, and the behavior should calm down.
- Write It Down: It’s normal to have lots of questions about what is normal, especially within those first few weeks. It’s beneficial to keep a log of your baby’s feedings as well as their pees and poops so that you’re able to see any patterns that may emerge. If you do need to see a Lactation Consultant, bringing a feeding log with you will be a great visual, and will give them a great idea as to what’s going on with the feedings.
- What is Normal: It’s not uncommon to hear that breastfeeding is painful, if you are anything like me, you have your mother-in-law telling you to rough up your nipples to get ready for breastfeeding.
This is terrible advice leads to more breastfeeding problems!
You should not do anything to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding, some discomfort is normal but pain or discomfort lasting longer than 1-2 minutes after latch is a problem. Remember, any pain is a signal from your body telling you that something is wrong.
- Ask for Help: Remember the resources! Whether it’s at the hospital where you delivered, your local La Leche League chapter, or even over-the-phone support; the resources are vast. Don’t suffer in silence! If you’re struggling, surround yourself with other mamas who can help you. And don’t forget to ask for professional advice. Breastfeeding is a learned behavior.
You may experience breastfeeding problems in the beginning, but once you get it down, the benefits are vast! You got this mama!
If you are still unsure where you lie with this whole breastfeeding thing – take our quick quiz to see if you might benefit from some extra support.
- Most times I breastfeed my baby I feel pain that lasts longer than 1-2 minutes. This pain could be described as stabbing, burning, sharp pains, etc.
- My baby is older than two weeks and has less than eight diapers (pee or poop diapers) in a 24hr period.
- My baby self-detaches, pulls off or falls asleep after eating.
- My baby feeds for 45 minutes and then wants to eat again an hour later – (this cycle repeats, which is known as “cluster feeding”). Even with cluster feeding, my baby is having less than eight dirty diapers in 24 hours.
- Do you have physical damage to your nipples; bruising, bleeding, cracks, redness?
- Do you feel a tugging or pulling sensation similar to a massage with no pain during feeding?
- Do your nipples look swollen or elongated?
- Is your baby gaining 1-2 pounds a month at each checkup?
- My baby has green poop more than once or twice a week.
- During my pregnancy I noticed my nipples darkening and my breast becoming fuller.
If you have 6 points or more, you should absolutely seek help from a lactation consultant.